The Tiser v The Premier: Round II. South Australian Premier Mike Rann – a former spin doctor himself – and his media minders have cherry picked the ranks of Adelaide media, buying off most of the decent journos with high paid jobs in the government media unit. So they got very upset when the Adelaide Advertiser published details of their pay and packages and latest salary increases last week. Media unit oberfuhrer Jill Bottrall threatened the Tiser with an email questions only policy. The hacks hit back when the posted video of a phone call from journo Michael Owen to media gimp Lachlan Parker on YouTube for the entire world to enjoy. The Premier’s Office was most upset, Crikey understands. Crikey hears Owen was escorted from a function with the Premier yesterday by the constabularly – and if you try to find the video all you’ll get is a “This video has been removed by the user”.

The blurry line between ABC journos and NSW gov staffers. After the 2003 NSW state election, two ABC journos walked out of their state political bureau at Parliament House in Macquarie Street and into the corridors of the Labor Government as minders. Ben Wilson rose quickly through the ranks and is now chief spin doctor to Premier Morris Iemma while Nino Tesoriero worked for deputy premier Andrew Refshauge for two years until his (Refshauge’s) resignation in July 2005. After the March 2007 election, ABC Radio’s chief political reporter in the press gallery, Samantha Wills, quit her job to become a Labor operative on a six-figure salary. The NSW gallery is frequently heard berating politicians who leave parliament to take up jobs in commerce and industry (Bob Carr’s jump into the folds of Macquarie Bank springs to mind) but they seem to have no ethical qualms about working on election campaigns for the ABC and then leaving the corporation to join the winning (Labor) side. If they decided to leave journalism AFTER election day, then there would seem to be no problem. But what if they laid plans to join the government DURING the campaign? Could that possibly influence the way they covered the ALP (their future employer) and the Opposition? Perhaps the weary paper shufflers at the ABC and the supine Media Alliance bureaucrats could stir themselves into some kind of response to this increasingly controversial trend.

An old face and a new subject at Nine. There were some big changes on Nine’s news and current affairs hour in Sydney last night. First up we had Peter Harvey in a new role as the news reader and the 32 year veteran of the network performed with a reassuring confidence. Old, lived in faces have a look of authority about them and reports of Harvey’s television death when his final Last Word editorial segment, run at the end of the news, was dropped with Eddie McGuire’s departure last month were clearly premature! More refreshing was the evidence from A Current Affair that the James Packer era really has come to an end. Before James’ departure to the casinos of the world we would not have expected even a slightly balanced examination of the attitude of Scientology to psychiatry. Last night what we got on ACA was quite a penetrating examination of how Scientologists deal with people with mental problems and there was plenty of time given to experts claiming that the so-called religion with its e-meters was nothing more than hocus pocus created by a science fiction writing charlatan. The only possible quibble with this serious piece of current affairs reporting, prompted by the case before the Bankstown Local Court involving the daughter of two Scientologist parents, was the failure to mention that their former boss James was every bit as much a Scientologist as Tom Cruise and John Travolta who were featured. — Richard Farmer

Glenn Milne coming up short? It seems as if the Sunday Telegraph has decided it needs to add more oomph to its Canberra coverage. Glenn Milne, it seems, just isn’t enough. So he’s been introducing a helper, Sharri Markson, round the Gallery.

Ice Cube takes The Game to Murdoch. Last Friday’s Herald Sun went the hack on rap music with their front page piece “Rap Rage”, forewarning the arrival of platinum-selling rappers Akon and The Game. Now, Akon is a bit of a tool (as evidenced here and here), but west-coast rapper The Game prefers the kind of socially conscious hip-hop pioneered by the likes of Ice Cube (who became acquainted with media rage in the late 80s when, as a member of NWA, he released the tune “F-ck Tha Police”). Ice Cube, who tours here in August and September, came to the defence of The Game in an interview yesterday with Crikey, though his comparison of hardcore hip-hop to hard liquor will unlikely sway those whose cause is to “think of the children”:

How is The Game’s lyrics, and anything he’s talking about, gonna hurt anything that’s going on in Australia? The Game is usually talking about what’s going on right in his own backyard, or with him personally. It’s not like he’s got this spewing message. He’s a hardcore hip-hop rapper. Some people like hard liquor, and some people like wine coolers. Some people like no liquor, virgin drinks. When you’re dealing with hardcore rap, you’re dealing with hard liquor. I know Rupert Murdoch is very rich – but he can’t run the world. He can put obstacles in my way, but as far as changing me? It’s not gonna happen. And it shouldn’t change The Game. The rich think they can get anybody to believe anything. F-ck that.

— Daniel Zugna

Ten looking for a ratings kickstart. The Ten Network hopes its 2007 ratings year, now half over, gets a kick start tonight with the return of 2006’s most successful new program, Thank God You’re Here. It goes to air at 7.30pm and Ten is hoping it will lift the network’s ratings after a sharp drop in the first half of the year. But that will be tough because it needs more than just one program a week, to reclaim the lost ground. An analysis of the first half of the ratings year by Fusion Strategy shows that in All People, Ten has lost 7.3% of its audience compared to last year. Stripping out Easter and the Commonwealth Games in 2006, Ten’s All people audience was down 9.53%; 16 to 39 was down a massive 13.3% and 25 to 54 was off 8.45%. Ten doesn’t target All People: its main audiences are in 16 to 39 and 18 to 49, while it does have ambitions for the 25 to 54 age group, where most of the viewers and ad dollars are located. On a commercial share basis (competing against Seven and Ten), Ten reckons it is on track to win the under 40 demographic, and with a commercial share of 34.6% it’s going to win the 18 to 49 group with Thank God You’re Here and some other programs over the next few months, but it will have a close tussle with Seven which is doing better in both demographics this year. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tuesday night and Seven runs hot, Nine dies and Ten runs second… again. It Takes Two dominated and was tops with 1.838 million people. Seven News was second with 1.500 million, All Saints was next with 1.464 million, followed by Today Tonight (1.365 million) and Home And Away (1.253 million). And that was the night from 6pm to 10.30pm: Seven all the way. After that came Nine News (1.229 million), the fresh ep of The Simpsons at 7.30pm (1.222 million), A Current Affair (1.221 million) and the 8pm Simpsons (1.212 million). Temptation had 1.179 million, Nine wound up Crime and Justice at 7.30pm with 1.082 million and The ABC 7pm news averaged 1.069 million. Ten’s NCIS had 1.064 million and 7pm Big Brother staggered back over a million with 1.011 million.

The Losers: Nine’s repeat of CSI Miami at 8.30pm, 848,000 viewers. No better really than the yanked fresh eps of CSI New York. The repeat of Muriel’s Wedding averaged 548,000 over a couple of hours from 9.30pm. Would The Nation (tonight at 10.30pm) have done any better? Probably not but at least it was a fresh attempt at programming, not a tired old repeat.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market, while Today Tonight won nationally and in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. ACA won Melbourne and Brisbane. Ten News averaged 938,000. The Late News/Sports Tonight had a solid 482,000. Nine’s Nightline averaged 214,000 at 11.40pm (why does it bother?). The 7.30 Report averaged 802,000; Lateline, 202,000; Lateline Business, 138,000. SBS News, 175,000 at 6.30pm; 150,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 370,000; 7am Today 240,000.

The Stats: Seven was first with 35.8% (34.8% last Tuesday night). Ten as second with 22.6% (23.8%), Nine was third with 22.4% (21.2%), the ABC was next with 13.8% (14.6%) and SBS was next with 5.4% (5.6%). Seven won all five metro markets and now leads the week 31.7% to 26.6% for Nine. In regional areas a win to Prime/7Qld with 36.8% from Nine through WIN/NBN with 23.0%, Ten through Southern cross with 22.0%, the ABC with 12.5% and SBS with 5.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A moment of truth next Tuesday for the Nine Network. All the talk in the past fortnight from network boss, Jeff Browne, and programming chief, Michael Healy, about how Nine has strong material for the second half of the year, will be put to the test. Seven’s Dancing With The Stars and It Takes Two have dominated Tuesday nights at 7.30pm so far this year, giving the Network huge wins and helping win many weeks. But for the next eight weeks or so Seven will be running Animal Rescue/Medical Emergency (until a new series of Dancing starts). In response Nine starts a program called Things To Do Before You Die which unfortunately looks like a Getaway spin-off and nothing more. Nine is not really trying and should be making more of an effort to halt Seven on Tuesday nights so that it can lever off Sea Patrol on Thursday nights and get closer or even win. For all the hot air from Willoughby about how Seven is going to slip, Nine still doesn’t have enough programming firepower. Tonight Nine has McLeod’s Daughters and Without A Trace. Seven brings back The Force at 7.30pm and finishes Prison Break over two hours from 8.30pm. The ABC has Spicks And Specks and the Chaser repeat. Ten returns Thank God You’re Here and has a fresh House, which will make for a very close night.

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Peter Fray
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